Wednesday, 26 June 2013

More Pagan Conflict

I was reading an article which lead to another and to another and came across this article on Patheos. It seems nowadays there is this whole thing about being hard polytheists or atheist theists or looking at Gods as abstracts rather than sentient beings. There seems to be discussion that turns into mudslinging, arguing and every other juvenile behaviour you could think of.

Are we really at a point now where those who worship/work with the Gods as sentient beings think less of those who work with them as abstracts and vice versa? The whole point of Paganism (and do correct me if I'm wrong) is that it allows flexible and creative thinking when it comes to our own personal spirituality. Since when has it become that one must follow in with the masses and believe as others do or we're wrong? When has it come that if one believes the Gods are real, then those who don't are wrong? When has it come that we all spend time attacking each other over things that, quite frankly, are no one else's business but our own.

Yes, I know by putting it out there in social media we invite comment and discussion but how does that devolve to criticism and mudslinging? Just because some one allows for comments on their blogs, does that automatically mean you can attack what they believe because it is different from your own path? If a person is brave enough to share their journey, I think some respect for that choice is in order. I've read blogs that I've not necessarily agreed with but I've never posted something hateful or inflammatory simply because I can. I respect that person's belief and their right to have that belief and post about it if they choose to. It is not my right to be critical and push my version of right or correct on them.

Lately it seems that everywhere Pagans are at each other over the most ridiculous things. Kind of makes me glad I am not on Tumblr or Facebook groups that do this. I have my little corner of the social media world with my blogs and I am quite happy there, no need on my end to go out there and start trouble....

Monday, 24 June 2013

#16 The Forest Witch

I’ve been making steps on my Forest – encouraged by The Forest Witch. I have planted seeds of Hawthorn and Blackthorn, patiently waiting for them to awake from their slumber. I have seeds stratifying in the fridge of Juniper and Rowan. I have been exploring what it means to be a caretaker of such a space, and I also think that I am beginning to understand where my path – both magically and mundane – is meant to go.

I’ve also purchased The Green Man Tree Oracle (image of one card above) because it speaks to me of the forest and it is beautifully presented, as a mediation tool for my Herbal Altar project (more to come on that) it will be most helpful. I’m probably considered barmy for trying to create an English style forest in the middle of SA where the summers are hotter than Hades and barely conducive to growing anything half the time (although times are a-changing, autumn and winter were/are very wet this year). But I feel this is something I must do.

The Forest Witch stands among the trees holding her basket of fruit, hand stretched toward the Owl. Wisdom and strength within the natural world; this is what I see when I look at this card. She holds her basket of wildcrafted edibles, her look natural and at ease with the environment around her. She is but one of many spirits who wonder the woods, who experience the energy of the Old Ones and she is not afeared of their darkness, she sees the balance of that darkness with their light and she accepts that she is a steward of the forest, her soul lives there with all the creatures and beings that walk the winding paths of bramble, soil and herb.

#4 The Cauldron Witch

I’m making inroads to a more healthy me – baby steps. I try to drink fruit juice every day (organic if possible) and eat at least one piece of fruit. Come rain or shine I also try to walk down to the mailbox to get the mail. It’s a process. I’ve been cleaning too, trying to work out what is necessary and what is not.

I saw a Crow today, beautiful big beast it was. I love crows – and on the card the Witch has her own crow on her cauldron and a toad on her shoulder. She drinks of her own brew, happy to imbibe with her own creations. I’ve always wanted a toad skull. I find the energy of a toad interesting and intend on getting one to go with my crow skull. I think the message of this card is to begin to work the magic and medicine of the toad and crow, as well as the magic and medicine of my own making. It’s time to explore my knowledge and begin to live the life I truly wish to have.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Winter Solstice

The Oak, still green leaves adorn her.

The Winter Solstice has come and gone and I never really felt quite like it was truly that time of year. I look outside and my Oak is slowly changing, but it still has a lot of green leaves on it. There isn’t that stillness that comes with true winter. The tree holds it leaves and more than anything it is telling me that although it is cold and wet, winter is truly not here just yet. I think it could be the absence of autumn. We had maybe a week of autumn like weather before the rain and cold set in. I would say May was perhaps the coldest and wettest in my entire memory of living in SA. There was no middle ground and so the natural world around me seems to be confused and still keeping to its schedule of shedding and dormancy.

The Oak, still leaved.

I think the greatest confusion is for me, I don’t feel the Sabbats, not truly, not as so many others do, sometimes I think I honour them by rote more so than true, heartfelt dedication. I think it is because my path is changing so much, I am not sure how much of what was will still be. Samhain did not present me with a thinning veil; I still don’t think it has. To be fair, it could also be because I was incredibly ill during that time, but I almost feel like my spirit is adapting to the new direction of my path and so the old may not remain relevant or correct as I move along. I still have my Sabbat dinners with my family, this is a tradition I started and very much enjoy still.

Cotoneaster plump with berries.

I think the Green Path shows me that the body, the spirit knows when the seasonal changes truly happen. Winter is beginning to show her teeth, but I do not think she has reached her zenith. She has not given bite to the outdoors. There is no barrenness that talks of the months of dormancy, she has not reached her skeletal fingers out and plucked the last of the autumn cloak away. She lets the sun shine to nourish the plants before they gather their warmth around them for the dew and frost. The Old Ones of the Green have not placed upon themselves their cloaks, ready to face the coming cold, they still breathe life into flowers and give birth to colour, not ready to relinquish their domain to the chill of the Wintered Old Ones.

Stinging Nettle beginning to flower.

As my stone fruits slowly gift the ground with their leaves and my oak changes from green to gold to red, I look and see the Chinese Latern naked and bare, brushed by the winds. Those same winds cannot dislodge the leaves of the Oak; it is stubborn and stalwart in its strength and silence moving toward the darkening months. It holds true, knowing it has not yet come time to slowly gather in the dryads and sleep until spring kisses it awake. She holds firm, showing me that there is still colour to be had before the night of winter comes upon us. The mornings are crisp and my breath is mist as it expels from my lungs, still, some days I can take a cup of tea and sit on the verandah, enjoying the slight warmth before it fades away.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Just Cos

Mmmm delicious!

Images from Here.

New & Growing

Little inroads in the garden, I've finally been able to get some banes to grow. I was beginning to doubt that I could. I am feeling quite positive about it now!

This is my Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade), one up so far, hoping for more!

My Black Henbane, two little seedlings, although the big one is the only one really clear.

I finally managed to purchase a Yew tree! So excited as I've been feeling pulled toward this tree for some time now.

I also purchased an Elder, what witch's garden would be complete without one?

Green/Hedge Witch Altar Project

I’ve come to understand something about myself. My road, my journey is the Green Path. I am a Green Witch and I am a Hedge Witch, I firmly base myself in the natural world, I am not ceremonial, I am not even mildly ritualised in my practices. I work intuitively and when the mood moves me. I am deeply rooted in the country around me; I am deeply rooted to the green within me. I try to emulate this in my world around me by creating and growing beautiful gardens filled with herbs, flowers and trees, the sorcery of the Green. I adapt to suit and I change with the seasons. I am fluid; I am ever growing and before lay twisted, gnarled roads – powerful, infinite and waiting to be explored. They are obscured by the bramble, thorns prick my skin as I move forward, reminding me that I am climbing toward a wild place; I accept this and let it bleed because it feeds the earth and nourishes the spirits. I journey to the Otherworld and meet with those who have wisdom for me, those who know I am there to learn, to grow, to change. Is it a feral nature within me? I don’t know, I’ve yet to fully embrace this part of myself but I know that when I do, the spirits of the Green will welcome me and enfold me in their embrace.

I haven’t yet fully realised this in my life. I sat wondering what I could do to firmly show my commitment to this path. I looked to my altar, and although it is lovely, it doesn’t truly represent the path I walk. I don’t have the things of the wild, green world that remind me of my path. I want to change this; I want my altar to truly reflect the journey I am taking. My project is to take the time to explore this all further and to create the altar I want now that I have completed the last of my Tafe for this semester and can breathe easy. I have always said that your personal altar should reflect your path, your practice and your beliefs yet mine doesn’t and it has become glaring obvious that I need to remedy that. I’m not sure what will end up on my altar. I think subconsciously I knew this change would be coming sooner or later; I have a lovely little corked bottle of herbs, a charm or talisman if you will – my own little herbal witch bottle. I felt inspired to make it one day – would be a few months ago now. It had no real purpose, but I feel it was there to remind me what was important; my pursuit of an Advanced Herbalism diploma and the pursuit of finding the Green.

My altar as it was.

I think the first thing I am going to make is an altar candle that encapsulates the Green. Earth herbs and barks, green dye and scented with earthy, mossy essential oils, it will be the first representation of my new road. My ‘earth’ bowl (representative of the elements) might be changed to natural terracotta and filled with salt and herbs also representing Earth. I’m not sure how I will address the other elements – likely patchouli incense stick and leaving the water as is, I feel the elements are important to represent, however you do it and prefer it on your altar; beyond that, I think that things will be added as new revelations and journeys open to me. I may keep my flying ointment on there as well; this is representative of the hedge witch in me. I don’t know, I think this is going to be a long term project that will grow with each new discovery, each new step along the Green road. That is the thing about the Green road; you never know what will lie ahead until you come across it.

The little Herbal Witch Bottle.

I am wondering about putting images from my decks that have the Green feel. I have a few – there is the Tarot of the Secret Forest, Wildwood Tarot, Druidcraft Tarot, Druid Plant Oracle, Faeries Oracle and Heart of Faerie oracle (and that isn’t even the complete list of decks I have). And I just bought the Green Man Oracle – couldn’t help myself. All of those decks are deeply rooted in the earth, the Tarot of the Secret Forest is a recent acquisition and quite lovely, certainly a deck a gardener and green witch can connect to. I’ll have to get new ink for my printer though…..

I wrote about it previously, one of my projects – perhaps the largest of them – is to create my own forest on my block of land. It is not a short term project, it will likely be long term, lifelong I would imagine. I am going to be planting trees of Yew, Oak, Elder, Ash, Maple, Rowan, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Juniper, Lucerne, Gum and more. I will be planting herbs to grow wild such as Mullein, Mugwort, Patchouli, Sage, Thyme and more, I will add bulbs to bring forth a carpet of colour and scent, flowers of Snapdragon, Foxglove, Daisy and more will adorn the space bringing together scent and feeling so powerfully magical that it will echo on the landscape for a lifetime to come. This is not just for me, or a gratuitous ode to my green path, it is something that will sustain the landscape, inviting in insects, birds and more. It will stand as a new habitat hopefully growing and changing over time. It will stand for the Spirits and Old Ones, a doorway, a green oasis.

My altar as it is now.

My altar stands rather empty now, the candle on it - not the candle I am going to make, it is the one I made previously to connect with earth energies but the one I make will be similiar. I am passionate about this and I know that as winter turns to spring, my forest will begin to grow. My altar will show my path of green and hedge, my life will begin to change to be what I want it to be. I will greet, with joy, the completion of my Advanced Herbalism certificate, knowing I am one step further toward my dream. I will continue to craft for my business and begin the baby workings of a new dream – to create a small plant nursery. With time I hope this is my life, as witch, herbalist and nursery owner, writer, teacher and diviner. There is a reality to change to the way I wish it and I slowly, hesitantly take the steps to lead me there.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Book Review: The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners by Wolf D Storl

The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners by Wolf D Storl (cultural ecologist) is an interesting look at the history of herb lore and those who practiced throughout the larger history of this world. It’s an extensive book despite only being 384 pages long, looking at various herbal traditions from around the world. Storl has apprenticed with many different herbalists, learning and amassing a large amount of knowledge on plants and plantlore.

He looks at herbalism from many different angles and challenges the reader to think beyond the ‘medical’ and look to the spiritual when working with plants. He presents the argument that our ancestors (including the Neolithic) were very much in tune with the spirit of the plant and therefore acted more intuitively when gathering plant material. He also argues the benefits of whole plant medicine instead of the isolating of one particular gene or element to treat a person; the book presents the idea that holistically speaking, the whole is better when dealing with herbs for medicine – a view shared by most herbalists. Some herbs to this day have not been able to be scientifically reduced to the one compound or chemical that makes it work.

He presents the idea that the wise women and wortcunners of old were not just herbalists in their own right, or just botanists and pharmacologists but also shamanic practitioners and keepers of the occult knowledge about the powerful properties of herbs and plants. He delves into the world of shamanism, looking at how ancient peoples interacted with the natural world around them and the abundance of plant life. Plants are an important part of any life, whether it is for the shamanic practitioner, indigenous person or the individual using them to flavour food – which he also addresses in his chapter on medicine as food. He encourages connecting with the plant and giving offerings in honour of the material it provides. Today many herbalists who are also Pagan, Shamans or shamanistic in their approach to working with plant energy will do this, whether the offering is of a personal nature or simply something to feed and help the plant grow.

His analogy of a modern herbalist was not one I would agree with as a herbalist myself, Storl says; "It appears these herbalists are a strange, secretive, unconventional lot. To the anthropologist, they have much in common with the shamans, medicine men, and witch doctors of the primitive societies that the academics study. Often they dress funny, live in unusual places, have odd habits (such as not cutting their hair - "hair is an antenna with which to pick up vibrations"), eat a strange (often vegetarian) diet, are "religious" but not "churchy", do not drink strong spirits and the like" (pg 28), most herbalists tend to wear white coats and work within a clinical scope. I believe he was referring to herbalists who still observe the traditional ways and are not looking to be clinical or medical in their approach.

Storl explains how to become a herbalist today, looking at the different areas such as collecting the material, distillation, administering the medicine and more. He also encourages people to become gardeners, to understand the cycle of the plants and to know what it is they are using which is common sense to me. A part I found particularly interesting was the chapter exploring herbs as dyes and fabrics. He of course discusses hemp as a material and the succession of local dyes and plant material being lost as an artform as more glamorous colours (saffron to mention one) came in from other countries.

He also discusses the Banes and their place in herbal history, the information is quite rounded and full given the subject manner. There are a couple of historical recipes used in context to explain the use of Banes such as the Solanaceae family, Henbane, Hemlock and Aconite (to name a few). He discusses the lore of the witch and the place it plays in history and even to this modern day. He touches on a lot of different areas, looking into mythology to share ideas on some of the more poisonous herbs, he mentions them being part of Hecate’s garden, understanding banes in her role as Goddess of the Crossroads, the Otherworld, Witches and Magic.

Overall it’s a fantastic book, one I would recommend anyone with an interest in herblore to acquire. In some areas Storl does get quite scholarly, especially when he gets into etymology of words, but generally it is an enjoyable book with something for everyone. If you’re a student of history, mythology or herblore, I would say make the investment because I don’t think you’ll be sorry for it.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Round the Garden

Winter Veg Harvest


The Oak moving toward winter



Random flower popped up from nowhere

Basil and Black Nightshade

Basil and Flat Leaf Parsley

Flowers of Thai Basil

Lemon Basil and Lemon Balm

Flowers of the Aloe Vera


My Forest

I’m a bit of a dreamer, although most of the time I am grounded in practical reality, I do like to let myself wonder to far off places in my mind, imagining what I could do, where I could go and what I would love to see. I am a follower of the Green Path and I work every day to try and build on that, create places around my home that invite in the wild spirits and those unnamed who walk through the natural world. Lately I’ve been feeling as though I am being pulled toward another ambition within the Green Path. To create something larger and lasting, something that will live beyond my lifetime and flourish, offering a haven for the spirits, the Unnamed Ones and the wildlife that lives in my small corner of SA.

This is my block, all the way down to the second shed.

I am going to create a forest – or at least the small beginnings of one. Before you think I’ve cracked my head on something hard, this is a long term project, perhaps not even fully realised in its potential in my lifetime but I am willing to commit myself to trying. My brother had a block of land just round the corner from our house, but since he no longer wants it, he is selling it to me (reduced rate – got to love brothers) instead. It’s about an acre and a half I think, and perhaps one day I will build my own house on it (the part not used for forest), but for now, one half is going to be dedicated to my plan to create a forest. I’ve been busily organising and purchasing trees, some I will grow myself. I have right now, an English Elm, an English Oak (babies from our own Oak), a Yew and an Elder, although the Elder I may still plant up here at home with our other fruit trees. I have on layby at the nursery an Ash and a Norwegian Maple. I am planning to grow Hawthorn, Blackthorn (Sloeberry), Rowan, Juniper, possibly Snowberry and likely more Elder. I also have a bit of a dream to put a little cabin in the middle with a pergola covered in purple Wisteria.

Yes, I really am a dreamer. But I am a Green Witch; I want to create a lovely place full of mystery and wonder. I think about adding bulbs like bluebells (I am in love with English meadows that are filled with them), ferns, herbs and flowers. It will be a magical place all my own where I can just revel in the wonders of nature. Will it work? Who knows? Half the plants aren’t really practical for my climes but I have hope. We’ve had a particularly wet May and it looks like June will be following in that vein so the ground will be wonderfully wet and nourished. If this continues on into the spring season, the trees will get an excellent start. I’m tempted to also add in a pond – but that might be pushing it. The heat we get in summer – the darn thing would dry up!

It will very much be a long term project – this is something that I will be committed to for the rest of my life as long as I am able. A living testament to my commitment to creating a green world, of giving back and inviting in wildlife so that the issues created by today’s consumerist society can be battled. Plus who wouldn’t love to have their own wood or forest created by their hand? I am nervous because it is such a large thing to take on, I have to pace myself and not do to much at once, little by little I think is the best way to approach this. I am excited though because I feel like this is what I am meant to do, even if it just for my own personal enjoyment, I am creating something natural and beautiful that will hopefully remain long after I’m gone….

The fun part is thinking up a name – every wood should have its own name.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Card #4 The Cauldron Witch

The Cauldron Witch reveals that you can change your fate through your intuition, and physically by eating healthily and avoiding toxins. By reconising where fate is lending you a kindly hand and where your own efforts are best exerted, you have a perfectly wholesome recipe for mind, body and spiritual success.

Your dedication to your life plans and ambitions brings changes, growth and happiness. You may be tested but through effort you will overcome difficulty.”

The second card I am working with is the Cauldron Witch. I like what it has to say, and strangely, it almost ties in with the Forest Witch card. I am trying to move forward in a healthier, committed lifestyle in all areas. Getting ahead of my Tafe was my one concern and now that I am almost there, I can take a breath and look at other areas of my life. I am going to have to get back to it, the assignments won’t write themselves (if you’re a witch there should be some magical law that allows it hehe), but I am learning to pace myself – especially if I want to complete my Advanced Herbalism diploma.

I am very excited about the prospect of change and happiness. One should never scoff at those blessings. Change is happening in my life right now, and although only on a small scale, it is still a good thing.

I may do an oracle or tarot reading in the coming days to further clarify what this could mean.

Card #16 The Forest Witch

It’s been awhile since I’ve done anything with the Witch cards, but I’ve decided to give them another go and move forward with this project. I had every intention of continuing on with it, but got quite caught up with mundane things. I will have an update the Silver Moon Witch card but my new card is The Forest Witch. I actually have two cards I’m working with, they both presented themselves to me and I will write about that one also.

The Forest Witch meaning is “The Forest Witch is a reminder that a little fear can help you keep to the safer path. Enemies, dangers, poisons and demons lurk in the forest’s foliage. There, the clear reasoning in your subconscious is blocked by the sunlight.

A ray of light illuminates a situation that has cast you into delusional darkness. Your way ahead becomes bright and clear through news you hear. Career, love life and travel prospects are about to change with one letter, telephone call, email or meeting.”

Isn’t that interesting? I must protest the delusional darkness part, I’m not particularly delusional about anything – that takes a level of commitment I just don’t have. The second part sounds positive; I’m interested in seeing if that unfolds but this time, I think the card is indicating something else that is going on in my life. I’ve been slowly moving toward creating wonderful things in my life, one of which is a forest (see where this going?) of my own with different trees and plants and ground covers. I have a block of land, or will have once the paperwork is done and here I am going to plant plenty of trees, I am even considering creating a hedgerow with Hawthorn, Elder, Blackberry and perhaps Rosehips – although I think the proper plant name for rosehip is Rosa canina or Dog Rose – not even sure if I could get it in Australia, something to check into.

Anyway, I think the Forest Witch card is indicating that this dream can be a reality – probably not one that will properly flourish or realise in my lifetime, but I figure I can get it started and see how I go. Although I know for sure the Oak most definitely will reach its pinnacle way past my lifetime – they are especially slow growing. I will do a blog post about the trees I’ve selected and the block of land shortly.

The Forest Witch has also come at a rather opportune moment as I also begin to come to some realisations about my spiritual journey, all in all I think this card is here at the right time, working with it will surely be an interesting experience.